Category Archives: musings

form from form

begonia angel wing

…Full sail, I voyage

Over the boundless ocean, and I tell you

Nothing is permanent in all the world.

All things are fluid; every image forms,

Wandering through change.  Time is itself a river

In constant movement, and the hours flow by

Like water, wave on wave, pursued, pursuing,

Forever fugitive, forever new.

That which has been, is not: that which was not,

Begins to be; motion and moment always

In process of renewal …

Not even the so-called elements are constant …

Nothing remains the same; the great renewer,

Nature, makes form from form, and, oh, believe me

That nothing ever dies…

      ~Ovid, Metamorphoses*


The Master and his Emissary

Iain McGilchrist

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be called a forgetter of self

Forget things, forget heaven, and be called a forgetter of self.

The man who has forgotten self may be said to have entered Heaven. 




Tao of Photography

Seeing beyond Seeing

Philippe L Gross & S. I. Shapiro

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August 24, 2013 · 7:34 pm



 The years tumble by

like the leaves driven before the breeze,

intricate and veined,

fading from the green of recent memories

to the gold autumnal shades of the past.*

*Dark Hallow

John Connolly

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weekly photo challenge: curves

Share a picture of CURVES and explain why you chose that picture!

More  haze

than the sky could hold?

Today’s rain. ~Oka Kosetsu*



All things arise from Tao.

They are nourished by Virtue.

They are formed from matter.

They are shaped by environment.

Thus the ten thousand things all respect Tao and honor Virtue.

Respect of Tao and honor of Virtue are not demanded.

But they are in the nature of things.

Therefore all things arise from Tao.

By Virtue they are nourished,

Developed, cared for,

Sheltered, comforted,

Grown, and protected.

Creating without claiming,

Doing without taking credit,

Guiding without interfering,

This is Primal Virtue.

*cited in:

Haiku Before Haiku

Steven D. Carter

Tao Te Ching

Lao Tsu

Trans: Gia-Fu Feng & Jane English


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the path of the bodhisattva


The Tibetan Wheel of Suffering offers my Western eyes a contemplative tool by which to explore how psychological patterns –unconscious drives and needs, impulsive and reactive responses, learned and conditioned habits, and obsessions and compulsions – serve to keep me locked in self-defeating or misguided mental formations.

The Wheel of Suffering illustrates the prominent suffering within each six separate realms of existence; deva, asura, human, animal, hungry  ghost, and hell. It also offers hope and instruction by which to ease suffering through the inclusion of six tiny figures symbolizing the bodhisattva.

  • Within in the deva realm is a bodhisattva holding a lute signifying the joy and happiness that arises from a peaceful mind in unison with sensory experience.  The sound of the lute also alerts those in this realm that pleasures are temporary and that the happiness that comes with letting go of the emotional fusion with self and with another far exceeds that which arises from indulgence.
  • Inserted in the asura realm is a bodhisattva wielding a flaming sword, representative of discriminating awareness needed to free one paralyzed by their own jealousy.
  • Placed within the human realm is a bodhisattva holding an alms bowl and staff symbolizing an ascetic engaged in a true comprehension of identity.
  • Included in the animal realm is a bodhisattva holding a book representing the need for wisdom that arises through thought, speech, and reflection.
  • Introduced in the hungry ghost realm is a bodhisattva holding a bowl filled with spiritual nourishment.  These spiritual morsels: grace, faith, mindfulness, centeredness, compassion, loving-kindness, and equanimity, all contain the nutrients of wisdom to ease their torments.
  • Within hell, the lowest and worst of the three lower realms, is a bodhisattva holding a mirror indicating that the seeing and acknowledging, with nonjudgmental awareness, of unwanted emotions will alleviate suffering.

Many in the west conceive the bodhisattva as spiritual warriors who are compassionate beings whose sole and unique purpose in this world is to work for the benefit of all beings.

They are also generally considered as beings who, through their asceticism and transformation, have arrived at a state of awakening, but have renounced to enter into the completion of this awakening as long as there is a single being who suffers.

Yean-Yves Leloup notes within Compassion and Meditation, “a bodhisattva is a being who is undaunted by the multitude of beings who are not free, undaunted by the time, which seems to be needed for all to be free, and would sacrifice their own head and all their limbs” for the well-being of all sentient beings.

He also notes, “The Christian tradition maintains that one is never saved alone.  It is as if someone refused to experience paradise, or to see God, as long as there is one being who does not participate in this vision… As long, as a single being does not know the uncreated Creator and Love, the foundation of being and life, then perhaps we could say that one renounces, not the knowledge itself, but the savoring of this knowledge in its fullness…a cosmic state of consciousness, open to all beings.  My own body is the body of the universe, and as long as a single being suffers in this universe, I cannot know the fullness—in Christian terms, the beatitude.” (pages 39-40)

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weekly photo challenge: the sign says

Signs. Funny, poignant, symbolic, incorrect, informative, foreshadowing…there are so many signs in the world.

Share a picture of a SIGN and explain why you chose that picture!

While driving through the southern part of the United States, we came upon this sign painted on the side of an old wooden building…

gotta smile at the prideful display, “America’s Biggest Nickels Worth” while pondering about the culture of America when Pepsi-Cola was ONLY $.05.

signs (1)

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Entangled beliefs

entangled thoughts

My intention to ease my own suffering through a journey of spiritual readings has brought me to a place and time in which to unweave and sort through the pseudo-beliefs I have simply, without question, absorbed through the lens of childhood fantasy and comprehension.  To begin this process is to invite myself to explore The Buddha’s recommendation to reformulate my beliefs through a process of mindfulness and analysis and then to know for myself, “These things are bad, blamable, censured by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill… These things are good, blameless, praised by the wise… These things lead to benefit and happiness.”

It is not an easy undertaking to not simply believe what has been learned within family, school and church as well as conclusions reached through readings of idealized others. The invitation to not simply follow tradition brings to the surface conflicts with compliance and opposition that come from an avalanche of values and guiding principles that outlines how I understand the roles and expectations of women.

To not adhere to that which was surmised within family stories about an ancestor, who upon seeing a swarm of locust “knelt in his patch of grain and pleaded with his Maker to spare his wheat” and then saw them divide and not damage his remaining crops. Or within the story about the ancestor, who during a trip from New York to England, calmed the seas with a prayer, and while in England, after much fasting and prayer administered to a deaf and dumb boy who was subsequently healed.[1] To not simply believe opens a door of pondering about generations of family members who intimately knew powerlessness and insecurity, who eased their feelings of incompetence through prayer, and whose conceptions blinded them to their neighbors’ plight.

To not simply believe that I must endure suffering is to reject the axiom that there is an absence of fundamental faith and goodness. To not adhere to the assumed abilities of ancestors frees me from the belief that a sincere act of making amends for my sins will open the doors to Shangri-La.  To not simply draw upon scripture unbinds me to the shame that I don’t have the faith – even of the size of a mustard seed – to be deeded as “good and without sin” so what I wish for, even that which goes counter to nature’s laws, will be granted.  To ease the suffering within discontent is to not simply hold to be true that I am to acquiesce to pain until the final judgment of death, and only then will I be forever at peace, or forever condemned to an existence of even greater suffering.

To not simply believe opens my ears to the incongruence within a belief in an all-knowing presence who, if not validated, punishes, absent of the grace within loving-kindness.  To not simply believe brings a compassionate acknowledgment to the painful efforts to sway God into granting me my desires through bargaining, sacrifice, negation, and suffering, and to finally surrender with acceptance to “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  To not simply believe sheds light upon the greed, aversion, and delusions that are intertwined into my conception of and relationship with life.

I do hold that my beliefs and the subsequent desire for their illusive promises of validation, forgiveness, or reunification have set me upon an unending path of suffering.  These beliefs lead to harm and ill as they are like thorns that tear into my heart.  This searing pain releases resentment intertwined with envy, awakens alienation, and denies me the essence of Christ’s wisdom and loving compassion.

Christ stood before self-righteous anger and commanded that only the one without sin was to cast the first stone of punishment and, at another time and in the midst of his own suffering, sought forgiveness for those who “know not what they do.”   Within these written words, I hear compassion speaking for the suffering intertwined within anger ungoverned by moral shame and moral dread.  Compassion is telling us how suffering, entangled into knots of mental, emotional, and social turmoil, deafens us to our guiding principles and blinds us to the horrors our moral shame will witness as it awakens from darkened ignorance.

[1] Clara Fullmer Bullock, More than Tongue Can Tell (1960).


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